Half Man - Whole Life"
A conversation with Jeffrey Gordon
The World's Foremost Authority
On the Amazing Johnny-Half-Boy
All photo images credited to: Collection of Johnny Eck Museum.
G&C: You created the Johnny Eck Museum and have a vast collection of memorabilia. So... who was Johnny Eck?
JP: Johnny Eck (John Eckhardt Jr.) was born in 1911 without the lower half of his body. He was a true renaissance man in every sense. In the seventy-nine years Johnny Eck was alive, he became one of the world’s most well-known sideshow performers, actor, painter, photographer, master wood carver, race car driver, magician, train conductor and Punch and Judy operator. All this, without legs. By the time he was in his mid 20s, he had worked on the stages of Hollywood with famed director Tod Browning, exhibited himself in Ripley’s “Believe It or Not,” and been sawed in half by one of the greatest mentalists and magicians of all time Rajah Raboid. Show me a man today with legs who can accomplish all that.
G&C: Where do you think your passion comes from for this half man? Would you ever consider sawing off your own legs and reviving the Johnny Eck legacy?
JP: My passion for Johnny has grown immensely over the years. I have a window to his innermost thoughts and feelings that most people, including his family, never got. I have read his diaries and letters, listened to countless recordings of him ranting and poured over hundreds and hundreds of his photographs and drawings. There was a lot of sadness in his life, but he never let it show. He was the man with “the sunniest disposition.” I think he inspires me because, despite all that sadness he felt, coupled with his lack of legs, he believed that he could do anything to which he set his mind. So he did and did it well!
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